Neymar: Lionel Messi's penalty pass was meant for me, not Luis Suarez
Barcelona forward Neymar said Lionel Messi's penalty pass to Luis Suarez in Sunday's 6-1 win over Celta Vigo was meant for him instead.
With Barcelona leading 3-1 in the 82nd minute, Messi stepped up to the penalty spot, but instead of shooting, he laid the ball off for Suarez to rush onto it and complete his hat trick.
But Neymar claimed he was the intended target when the players initially tried out the audacious attempt.
"It was for me, we had practiced it in training!" he said with a smile. "Leo and myself had practiced but Luis was closer and he scored it.
"Our friendship is the most important thing. It doesn't matter who scores the goals just that we win the games."
Midfielder Andres Iniesta said he wasn't sure for whom the pass was intended.
"I had never seen them do it but I had heard them discuss it," he said. "Perhaps it was for Neymar but Luis was there so he converted it."
Messi's decision to pass was particularly notable because it meant Messi, who earlier scored his 299th goal in La Liga on a long free kick, had to wait for his landmark 300th.
Defender Jordi Alba said he had no idea that Messi would pass the ball.
"I didn't know because it's not usual to pass, but he is always coming up with things," Alba said. "It went well. The penalty was perfect. I don't know if they talked about it, but they're always trying things."
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique said there was no disrespect in the indirect penalty, a sentiment shared by his opposite number as well.
The play was reminiscent of one pulled off by Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff while playing for Ajax in 1982, and Luis Enrique said the move was all done in fun.
"There will be a big debate and some will like it, some won't, but as Barca players and members of the club, as well as winning trophies we try to enjoy our football in a spectacular way," Luis Enrique said in his news conference.
"What we have to do is enjoy our football, respect our opponents and try and show that we are better at them at football.
"In this country a bad tackle is more acceptable than a piece of skill. We don't care about the criticism. We know where it comes from.
"It's a legal way to take it, and we all remember Cruyff doing it."
He added jokingly: "I wouldn't have done it as I would have fallen over."
Celta boss Eduardo Berizzo said he did not feel his side were disrespected.
"It was taken in different way, that's it. It's not disrespectful," he said. "Their forwards are always very respectful to the opponent. They're voracious. They can each score the goals they can or want to.
"The penalty is within the law. I'm more hurt by the goals than how they're scored. The talent the Barca players have imposed itself on our organisation in the second half."
Barcelona vice-president Jordi Mestre said Messi likely would not have tried it had the game been level at the time.
"I don't think they'd have done it at 0-0," Mestre said. "My personal opinion is that at this point, if we see this show and talk about disrespect, that's not so good.
"I don't know if they rehearsed the penalty. I think they talked about it and it went well for the level of football they're at."
The result puts Barcelona three points clear of Atletico Madrid with a game in hand, and Luis Enrique praised his team for a strong second half after entering the break level at 1-1.
"Playing Celta isn't an easy match," he said. "We lacked finesse in the first half in the final metres. It might seem like an easy game but we're strengthened by this."